Five Tips to the Art of Great Storytelling

 In Blog

By Angela Perelli

“Frankly there isn’t anyone you can’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.”

That quote from a social worker was written on a piece of paper that Fred Rogers (aka Mister Rogers) kept in his pocket. So true. Can you think of someone that you (mis)judged until you learned their story? More importantly for radio, can you think of someone who may have judged you before connecting with you through one of your stories?

When we talk to morning shows about what they think is working on their show and where their show needs work, “storytelling” almost always comes up in the “needs work” column. From young talent to veterans, a lot of us feel like we need help in this department.

I came across a video this week that articulated storytelling tips in a way that reflects how we talk about structuring content for maximum impact. It’s a TED video from filmmaker Andrew Stanton (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E).

While the video is definitely worth watching for a lot of reasons, here are some morning-show related highlights for those of you with limited time and attention spans:

1. Know your ending. Everything in the story needs to lead you and your
audience toward a singular goal.

2. Make me care. Make me care by beginning with a promise [a hook headline, if you will] that your story will be worth our time. “Once upon a time…” works.

3. Change and conflict are fundamental to a story. We always suggest you ask, “What’s at stake?” What do you want to change and who stands in your way?

4. Talk about what you know. Draw upon personal experiences and values.

5. And lastly, make the lead character conditionally likable. “Conditionally likable” means that most people are good, kind people, willing to play by the rules, as long as certain conditions are met (e.g. for Woody in Toy Story he was kind as long as he was always considered “the top toy”). If you saw or read The Hunger Games, you know that Katniss Everdeen is a quiet teenager who also is a cunning and kick-ass fighter when her family and friends are in danger.

This last point resonated with me because we do so much work with clients to define  and develop your perspective – your likable qualities as well as quirks and flaws.

What is it in your life that would make you snap? Your family? The environment? Your social status? Your body image? Whatever that is is probably what makes you unique and interesting and from which might stem your most interesting stories.

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